Meet the indies – we’ve fished out some hidden treasure at Rushden Lakes.
Love shopping at independent stores and supporting local biz? You're in luck. Follow us as we uncover some of the fab Northants businesses calling Rushden Lakes their home.
Towering into view like a sleek cruise liner, you’ll see top brands and well-known fashion favourites on the signage at Rushden Lakes, but get amongst it and you’ll discover a surprising mix of unique, small businesses too.
Dotted around the gorgeously manicured and thoughtfully-planned open spaces (think outside benches with built-in phone chargers and fragranced litter bins, peeps), the indies and small chains that have made this thriving hub their home are buzzing, from bars and cafés like Hopmaster: The Reserve and Bewiched, to gorgeous gift store Mooch and the fantastic Made In Northamptonshire, which is stacked full of produce from local brands.
It’s only right and proper, then, that we don our stilettos to check out these hidden gems.
MAKE IT FASHION – Robert Goddard
An East Anglian institution, Robert Goddard have been in the fashion business for a whopping 12 decades. Owner Oliver Tookman (below), who took the helm in 2008, places a big emphasis on delivering amazing customer service alongside top-notch labels. There are now 8 stores across the region including the gorgeous Rushden Lakes space.
Have to admit, we’re a bit obsessed with the store design at Robert Goddard. Through the glass windows of the shop front is what appears to be a Georgian townhouse and when you step inside you’re transported. Think: super-luxe fittings, comfy velvet sofas and chilled out vibes. Like being in your dream lounge, with designer threads on tap.
You can get your mitts on some of the top luxury fashion brands here including BOSS, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren and if you’ve got a mini-me there are junior ranges too. Matchy matchy heaven.
The team are keeping it real by working hard to ensure they’re a sustainable retailer, neutralising their carbon footprint and reducing their use of plastic packaging. That’s a big tick from us.
RIDE IT OUT – AJ Cycles
This family-run business has built a crack team of expert cycling-geeks to get you on the right track (pun intended). They have a whopping 200 bikes to choose from and all the Lycra cycling gear you can shake a stick at including brands du jour Bontrager by Trek and Fox.
Owner Paul Scanes (below alongside the MD of Trek Bikes) was raised nearby in Higham Ferrers. He’s run the business for 15 years, moving to Rushden Lakes 3 years ago to benefit from the increased footfall here as well as the brilliant nature trails linking Rushden Lakes and Stanwick Lakes. Traffic-free cycling for the win!
This really is a one-stop shop. Bike need a tinker? Book it in here. They’ve got a 48 hour turnaround time for servicing.
If you can’t make your mind up, no sweat. There’s a useful ‘try before you buy’ option where you can see how you get on with the bikes that take your fancy. Bike hire is also available, be it a tandem, electric bike or a trailer for the Mudlet (or pooch) to take a leisurely pootle around the lakes.
Don’t see what you want? AJ will go the extra mile and order in from their range of suppliers, which includes Trek , Specialized and kids’ bike brand Frog.
STICK YOUR OAR IN – Canoe2
Canoeing at a shopping centre? Yep indeedy. Pop your heels in a dry bag and head to Canoe2 for a splash about in the gorgeous, slow flowing River Nene as it winds its way northwards from the Lakes. Founders Richard and Ian, both Northamptonians who met in primary school forty-something years ago, have been running canoe trips on the Nene for over a decade and are now based in the eco-sound, net-zero energy Boathouse at Rushden Lakes.
The boathouse itself is fab and you can hire it out for events or meetings with a view. How about a kids katakanu party or a corporate canoe trip? I feel a Muddy team-bonding exercise coming on.
If you like the idea of seeing Northants from a new perspective then it doesn’t get fresher than a paddle on the Nene. Chose from a two-hour paddle or half day adventure or plump for one of the multi-day trips with B&Bs or camping all organised for you and luggage transport included. Go on, take the plunge.
Ian and Richard’s kids also work in the business helping to organise and run the trips and tuition, so it’s very much a friendly, family affair.
READING MATTER – Magazine Heaven
If you’re into magazines (who, me? Spots coffee table in the verge of collapse) then feast your eyes on these lovelies. Magazine Heaven is the biggest independent stockist of magazines in the UK. With its industrial chic vibe, it’s like a microcosm of the heavenly Tate Modern bookshop – which is no surprise with interior stylist and designer Eloise Capocci running the show.
The Artisan Cafe is just upstairs. Serving Northamptonshire blended Tea Lab teas and coffee from The Roastery (alongside a fab foodie menu and relaxed vibes) it’s the perfect place to park up and indulge your mag habit.
Not just mags but books too! There’s a good range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry and we never judge a book by its cover but they do pick the loveliest looking books here so it’s perfect if you’re in need of a thoughtful gift or coffee table tome.
They also host regular events including book clubs, jazz and tapas evenings, yoga classes and styling workshops.
For the full list of businesses at Rushden Lakes you can visit their website here, or visit and explore for yourself! Want to read our guide to the ultimate day of fun and frolics at Rushden Lakes? Head here.
Rushden Lakes is open Mon-Sat 9am-8pm & Sun 11am-5pm.